Ahead of a public hearing later this month on a planned hotel along Taylor Avenue, the City of Annapolis is completing its review to ensure the necessary public services can accommodate it.
The Annapolis Planning Commission will hold a public hearing July 22 at 7 p.m. to hear from residents about the planned four-story, approximately 137-room hotel that would sit opposite the Annapolis Police Department.
But before the project can move forward, the city must finish reviewing the adequate public facility standards laid out in the City Code to ensure the community around a new development can provide public services such as water, stormwater management, police protection and traffic safety, among others, said Planning and Zoning Director Sally Nash.
While it’s close to being done, that process could potentially delay the public hearing, she said.
The project is headed up by JBJ Management Company, which undertook the original Park Place development in 2005. The new hotel is considered a modification to that existing project because the property is technically part of the original site design but was never built upon.
That area of Taylor Avenue has been a hotspot for proposed development in recent years. More than a decade ago, JBJ Management developed 12 acres of land at the intersection of West Street and Taylor Avenue. It now features the Westin Annapolis Hotel, more than 200 condominiums and restaurant and business spaces. Another long-talked-about project, a 1,000-seat performing arts center that would sit next to the Westin, has been in the works since at least 2014 and been estimated to cost $35 million.
Annapolis attorney Alan Hyatt, who represents JBJ Management on the project, said he believed the developer had satisfied all the adequate public facilities requirements, but that the city still believes there are some deficiencies.
The alderman who represents the area where the hotel would eventually go, Ward 2 Republican Fred Paone, said he has no problem with the project and suggested it could even help increase property values.
“I don’t have (many) constituents jumping up and down,” Paone said. “It’s gotta be the ugliest unbuilt-upon lot in town.”
The hotel would be a significant improvement to the site, Hyatt said of the 2.5-acre property.
As currently designed, the hotel would be considered a limited-service or business hotel, which lacks some amenities of a full-service hotel, such as a banquet facility. It would provide less-expensive rooms compared to other hotels in the vicinity as well as create new jobs and a new revenue source for the city from hotel and real estate taxes, Hyatt said.
Traffic safety at the intersection of Taylor Avenue and Loew’s Road, which includes the Poplar bicycle trail, is still a concern, Nash said. The developer has agreed to build a pedestrian-activated sign at the intersection. And the Transportation Department has recommended the installation of a traffic circle there to improve traffic flow.
Adequate police standards were initially approved in 2018 by then-Police Chief Scott Baker. Baker said the project wouldn’t impact police response time. However, due to a change in how police standards are calculated the developer will likely have to install closed-circuit cameras on-site or add additional lighting, Nash said.
Hyatt said on-site security or cameras could be provided as alternatives.
Other changes to the site design meant to help reduce noise and light pollution and better integrate the hotel into the existing community have also been made, said Annapolis Chief of Current Planning Tom Smith. The main entrance was relocated, additional fencing and plantings were added and a new architect was hired to redesign parts of the hotel, Smith said.
The city currently leases the hotel site as a temporary storage area for city public works materials and equipment, City Manager David Jarrell said. It has previously been used to store BGE equipment as well.